Attention Olympic hopefuls: If you want to minimize your risk of injury, you're better off competing in a Summer Games sport than a Winter Games event.
That's the conclusion of a new study that analyzed 287 injury reports from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. Altogether, 11.2% of the athletes experienced at least one injury during the 17-day event. That compares with 9.6% during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
The most dangerous sports were bobsleigh, ice hockey, short-track speed skating, alpine skiing, snowboard halfpipe and snowboard cross. Not surprisingly, the least dangerous sports included biathlon, cross-country skiing and curling. Also among the safest sports were ski jumping, Nordic combined, speed skating and freestyle moguls. Even luge made it on the “safe” list, despite the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia during a training run.
In addition, 7% of the athletes in Vancouver came down with an illness, the most common being respiratory infections.
Female athletes were more likely to sustain injuries than male athletes (13% versus 9%). They were also more likely to get sick (9% versus 5%).
The most common injury locations for all athletes were the face, head, cervical spine and knee.
Twenty athletes sustained concussions, which worked out to 7% of athletes in competition. That was twice as many as in the Beijing games.
The study was published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.